Tapas: Winter Detox










This past weekend I was in NJ teaching a Winter Yoga Detox at Fair Haven Yoga. The first few weeks after New Years are when we are getting into our new habits of healthy living and in order to make that change we need a certain level of self-discipline. I know that when I try to make a change in my life it is the first few weeks that are the most challenging.

In the workshop we explored the Sanskrit term tapas, practices of self-discipline. Tapas in Sanskrit translates to ‘heat’ or ‘to burn’, and it is a term in yoga which describes the process of inner cleansing. Cleansing of not only the physical but mental impurities that no longer serve us. It is the purification is not only of what you put into your body, but what you see, what you read, the people you surround yourself with. You can control what you eat, read, and most of what you see. When you begin to eliminate things that deplete you, you create space for those that you love, things that ignite you, your inner strength, and strong self-confidence.

Tapas is about burning away impurities or attachments that cause us suffering. It is about having the ability to accept and adapt to any situation. For example being equally content with living in a shack or a mansion. Things change everyday and it is our ability to adjust to those changes that keep us from suffering. Tapas are the self discipline that make us physically and mentally stronger.

The nature of the mind and body is to run after pleasures and basically the tapas or self-discipline practices are teaching us to stop giving into every guilty pleasure. One practice that helps to purify the mind is the practice of silence. Taking a few hours a day without words can purify your mind, help to purge it of old impressions that no longer serve you. As my mentor Ashley Turner says “in stillness we amplify”. There is a great power that comes from being still and silent. We so often busy ourselves with menial tasks or television in order to distract from the emotions or experience we are having. Don’t run from the emotion because it will just keep popping up. Be with the discomfort and eventually you will come out with some clarity, understanding and purification.

Over the weekend as I was planning my classes and exploring what tapas means to me I took 3 hours of silence. I found that the first 20 minutes were the most challenging, when I wanted to pick up my phone to text, and my email was calling my name. Once I got past those first painful twenty minutes I began to appreciate the power of the silence. From my experience and other tapas practices I have made videos for the Online Studio. You will find videos on silence, receiving insults with serenity, movements, and breath of fire. Explore and bring yourself to an edge, notice what bubbles up for you as you challenge yourself.




Now what?









The New Year has started and the first week of the year is a good time to check in with your intentions for 2012. It is a way to come back to your goals before they get away from you!

Part of my intention for the New Year is to stay focused and be more mono-tasked rather than always multi-tasking. As I write this newsletter I notice the distractions popping up – texting with my sister, posting to facebook – but like in meditation I come back to my breath and stay on task. Rather than ridiculing myself for attempting to multi-task I kindly coax my attention back to the newsletter.

What intention for the year did you set? How have you been living with that intention so far? What can you do to support yourself?

Taking time for yourself is a great way to stay on track with your intentions. Planning ahead can keep the dark days at bay and fend off the urge to give up or succumb to the winter blues. Personally, I know that February and March are months that test my light mood with the dark and cold days of winter. This year I am fending off seasonal blues with the bright reminder that in less than two months we’re off to Bali for this years international yoga retreat!

What plans can you make to practice your intention and self-care? Maybe a massage, mani-pedi, yoga class, dance class, time alone at home?

May we all live light, because everything is already okay.




12 Questions

Time flies and before you know it the New Year will be upon us!

Prior to the New Year’s Eve count down, break out your journal and ask yourself these 12 questions:

1. What are you most proud of from 2011?

2. What are you grateful for from 2011?

3. What are 3 things you will leave behind in 2011?

4. What has brought you the most joy in the past year?

5. How can you bring more joy into your life?

6. What is something or someone in your life that drains you?

7. What can you shift in your life to allow you to release what drains you?

8. What do you love?

9. What makes you smile?

10. How do you want to be in 2012?

11. What is your intention for the New Year?

12. How will you know you are staying true to who you want to be in 2012?

After answering these questions, let it settle! Give yourself time to register what you have uncovered.

Then, write out the answer to question # 3 on a piece of paper and crumple it up into a ball. Light it on fire and safely dispose of it. Watch the paper as the flames engulf it and turn it to ashes. Allow those things you listed to be truly left in the dust as you transition to a better you in 2012!

May we all live light, because everything is already okay.





I feel like time passes so quickly that sometimes it can be easy for me to miss the great things that are right in front of me. For the past week I have been in Singapore having quality time with my family as well as scouting out new locations for yoga retreats. When stepping away from life at home it is important to continue the practice letting go and being in the moment.

One way that I practice being mindful of myself during travels is writing in a journal even for a few minutes each day. It can be extremely helpful to recall what has actually happened and how I am being as a person.

A few days ago we went to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in the outskirts of Singapore to explore the beautiful jungle and get away from the sea of modern malls. To get to the far corner of Singapore we took a taxi, and personally not living here thought nothing of how we would find a cab in such a remote location. After a few hours of exploring, spotting over 20 monitor lizards, and eating a delicious meal we decided it was time to head back to town. Since it was pouring rain and we were so far out of town we were finding that no cabs were coming our way. After two hours of sitting at the cafe thinking we would get a cab the restaurant staff came to us to let us know that cabs weren’t coming and we needed to take the free shuttle that runs every 2 hours, and the next one wasn’t coming for another 45 minutes.

If I had been in the NY I would have already had my iPhone out to pass the time. At the start of our waiting I found that without my iPhone I was fidgety. Then I was reminded that I was with my family and I had no where to be and nothing to do. So that afternoon was one of my favorite ones while in Singapore. We played games, talked, and enjoyed each others company. Resisting the moment and trying to change the situation would not have helped. Enjoying the time and being present to it allows for there to be an ease in the moment.

That evening I journalled about the experience, expressing how I felt, what I enjoyed, how much I love my family and love to travel. Being mindful and journalling are steps towards stilling the mind. Sutra I.2 is Yoga citta vritti nirodhah Yoga is the controlling of the fluctuations of the mind stuff. It is an important sutra to keep in mind because the more aware we become of the fluctuations and distractions of the mind the more we are able to control it and witness life rather than react to it.

Live Light Practice:

For one full day be in the moment and don’t rush to the next thing. At the end of your day take 5-20 minutes to write down highlights of your day. Know that what you recall from your day is what’s important and let the rest fall away. Do not force your thoughts or details on the events, writing how you felt during the day can be a powerful reminder of how you are being as a person.